Friday, March 21, 2008

Movies opening this week

Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson, Nate Hartley, Troy Gentile, Leslie Mann, David Dorfman, dir. Steven Brill)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
If not for the involvement of Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen, the current gurus of screen comedy, this movie wouldn't be getting nearly as much attention. It's from one of Adam Sandler's pet directors, it's creaky and predictable and not very funny, it's another role for Wilson to coast through playing the exact same part. Ultimately, it's about on the same level as The Big Bounce. Wide release

The Hammer (Adam Carolla, Oswaldo Castillo, Heather Juergensen, Harold House Moore, dir. Charles Herman-Wurmfeld)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I have to admit, I kind of hate Adam Carolla. So I may have been a bit biased coming into this movie, but really Carolla is not that irritating in it. He muddles through well enough, playing a version of himself, and the slack writing and direction is as much at fault here as his half-assed acting. It all comes off as rather slapdash, like no one could be bothered to put that much effort into it. In that sense, it's a lot like all the other stuff Carolla has done. Limited release

Look (Hayes McArthur, Giuseppe Andrews, Miles Dougal, Spencer Redford, dir. Adam Rifkin)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I saw this almost a year ago at CineVegas, where it won the Grand Jury Prize for reasons that still escape me. It's crass and juvenile and sloppy, and coasts on a gimmick that's not nearly as clever as Rifkin wants you to think it is. It's gotten the widest release of any CineVegas winner to date, though, so I guess that's good for the festival. Opened limited Dec. 14; in Las Vegas this week

Shutter (Joshua Jackson, Rachael Taylor, Megumi Okina, dir. Masayuki Ochiai)
These Asian horror remakes continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel, with a direct-to-DVD cast and source material that's actually from Thailand, not Japan as is more common (although the director is a J-horror veteran). The PG-13 rating keeps things from getting too gory, and the scare moments are almost all cheap music cues and loud noises. The acting and plotting are a little better than, say, One Missed Call, and at least there is a marginally coherent ending. But overall it's a combination of J-horror tropes and generally obvious, lazy filmmaking with not a single spark of originality. Wide release

Under the Same Moon (Adrian Alonso, Kate del Castillo, Eugenio Derbez, dir. Patricia Riggen)
It may be dressed up in a foreign language and superficially address the issue of illegal immigration in the U.S., but really this isn't much different from one of those Disney movies about a dog traveling great distances to come back to its owner. Alonso carries much of the film with his charm as the 9-year-old boy who crosses the U.S.-Mexico border to reunite with his mom in Los Angeles, and there are a few understated scenes that effectively illustrate the daily lives of illegal aliens. But the contrivances are legion, and the sentimentality is eventually overbearing and obvious. Del Castillo, with her obvious fake breasts and movie-star demeanor (she's very famous in her native Mexico), makes for a rather unconvincing housekeeper. I might have liked it better if it were about a dog. Wide release

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